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Quick Fixes are Not Viable with Damaged Fundamentals – Fayemi (Interview)

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development and immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, always proves to be a scholar of immense stature. With background in multiple disciplines, including a doctorate in strategic war studies, it is understandable why he is on the intellectual side of development politics and reasoned policy. In this interview with Olawale Olaleye and Shola Oyeyipo, he addressed trending issues in his primary beat of assignment, the Ekiti and South-west politics as well as national concerns. Excerpts:

Let’s talk about the switch: from governor to minister, what has the experience been like?

Well, it is always a privilege to serve your country in any capacity, so I consider it a great honour to have been asked to serve. To answer your question pointedly: as governor, you are a big fish in a small pond; as minister you are a small fish in a big pond. A governor in a state has enormous powers. He should be able to do a range of things and he is supposed to be knowledgeable about several subjects. So, if you are serious, there is nothing stopping you from making a difference in the lives of your people.

As minister, you are only primarily responsible for a specific sector and you’re accountable to your principal just as a commissioner in a state is accountable to the governor. The bureaucracy at the federal level is much more complex and this tends to affect the pace and speed of activities. You are responsible for the activities in the sector that you superintend in 36 states. For instance, I am on a nationwide tour now. I am in Lagos today to engage mining stakeholders and inspect what is happening in the mining sector in Lagos State.

I am in Ogun State tomorrow for the same purpose. I have just come from Kaduna State. So, it is a massive responsibility in terms of number of states one is dealing with. But I guess the import of your question is the switch – what is the difference?  If your attitude to governance is one of service and sacrifice to the people, it doesn’t really matter whether you are serving as a councilor, a local government chairman or in parliament or in the executive branch of government. You can show relentless commitment to people at whatever level you find yourself. Of course, where you have greater authority, you also have greater responsibility and you cannot pass the buck to any other person.

It is your judgment call and you can get things done on a faster pace at the state level than at the federal level. But you have a wider remit at the federal level. You are dealing with a much more complex array of issues and subject matters, and it gives you wider experience in managing people and resources. But the important thing for me is that it is about service and it is all about demonstrating your commitment and passion for the people of our country.

There are two things about ministry. One, many people hold the view that you have been posted to the desert and that your skills, expertise and experience are being grossly underutilized. Two, many of your fans feel that no matter what you do, your impact may not be felt in four years. Do you agree? 

Yes and no. Yes in the sense that mining has been neglected for a very long time in our country and it is certainly going to take more than four years to get it out of the woods. That, unfortunately, is the impact of our concentration on oil in the last few decades. But I disagree with the premise of your question because saying somewhere is a desert automatically gives the impression that some other places are fertile or juicy ministries. I believe every portfolio is juicy in relation to the leadership one provides and the sheer force of one’s determination to succeed in making a difference.

I know that President Buhari is very passionate about opening up other opportunities for Nigerians in the agriculture field, in mining, ICT and industry. I also know that my boss believes I can deliver on tasks assigned and that probably informed why he decided to send some of us to certain areas, which may appear to the ordinary eyes as the desert as you put it but which offers, in the real sense of it, the greatest opportunity to make a difference.  If I were to be in oil: oil is oil and everyone will say petroleum is juicy and people have expectation that if you are in petroleum you have no excuse but to perform but if you demonstrate tangible achievements in the so-called desert, I think it enhances you and it enhances the fortunes of the country a lot more.

I don’t see these portfolios in terms of desert, fruity or juicy as some might see them in the world of journalism. Yes, there are people who think I should not be in mining, but they make that judgment purely on the basis of my academic background, my expertise and my work experience. Some feel I’m better suited in Education because of my academic background, others feel it should be a security related portfolio while others believe it should be foreign affairs because that was partly my brief during our presidential campaign.

But when people say this, they tend to forget that I was a governor, a position in which I was a jack of all trade and also expected to be a master of all equally. So, you are always going to get multiple views on this matter but the important thing is to leave positive footprints wherever you find yourself. Where you are doesn’t really matter. If you look at countries where governance is taken far more seriously than we do here, you are trained to apply yourself, wherever you find yourself. Look at the French independent presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron, who is beginning to make waves.

He started as a Mergers and Acquisitions expert banker in Rothschild, went into the French bureaucracy and rose to become the No 2 man in the presidency. President Hollande picked him from there, made him Minister for the Economy, from there he resigned and he is now pursuing the presidency It is really not what you study, it is not the expertise, you have at the end of the day, it is your capacity to inspire, to lead people and to deliver on promises, and to monitor what you are doing for the greatest good of the greatest number of people.

Your ability to rise above challenges will determine whether you are an ‘A’ grade minister or governor or not. Unfortunately, in the age of populism and gullibility, hard work may not even matter. It may be how much noise you make that counts with the political society.

You have been in office for a little over one year now, maybe it would be nice for you to go through some of your activities in mining?

First, as an accidental miner, I had to acquire basic knowledge in elementary mining if you like. So, I spent the first month familiarizing myself with the agencies, the industry and understanding the issues germane to mining. I then put a team of experts in place to help produce a roadmap for the growth and development of the mining sector which was ready by April 2016. This was subjected to a wider stakeholder input at the sub-national, academic and industry levels before the Federal Executive Council approved the roadmap in August 2016.

The roadmap focused on designing strategies and timeframe to respond to the challenges of inadequate geological data, inadequate finance of the sector, proliferation of informal or illegal miners, federal-state tension, regulatory confusion and lack of enforcement as well as strategies for value addition through local processing of mineral endowments. We then went about raising necessary finances to support the sector which led to the approval of the N30 billion intervention fund by the President and FEC and also the $150million World Bank support.

Another significant hurdle was the settlement of the litigation that has kept the Ajaokuta and NIOMCO plants in abeyance for the past decade. So, you could say we spent the first year in preparation for turning Nigeria into a mining nation once again. So, this is the year of implementing all those plans and programmes that we spent the last year putting together. Unfortunately, people are already growing impatient. You know Nigerians are not long distance runners, we want quick wins.

And many are already saying to me, we are not seeing anything yet, how come they say you’re going to be our saviour from the dwindling fortunes of oil. So, that is one of the serious challenges the sector faces. You have to be ready for the long haul to come into mining, which means government must be ready to back people, who are serious about mining with a level of support through direct investment,  through banking support, single digit loans that are long term for those who want to play in the sector.

In summary, you have the question of data to grapple with, you have the issue of access to finance, you have regulatory challenges and the need to clarify the legal environment, you have federal-state tension that really have conspired to affect the advancement of mining in our country. You have the issue of the artisanal and illegal miners, who dominate the sector without the opportunity to add a lot of value. But we are not daunted by these challenges; this is our year of implementation.

What are your key goals and the timeline?

In order of priority, bringing Ajaokuta to life is our first priority. Achieving bitumen for asphalt production is the second and implementing our coal to power agenda is the third. Our fourth priority is organising the artisanal and informal sector and the fifth is achieving self-sufficiency in the processing and beneficiation of industrial and energy minerals which we have in large quantities. Of course, that’s without prejudice to the institutional and regulatory issues that we are already tackling alongside these big ticket items.

We certainly want a sector that is predictable and that is well regulated in which the laws are enforced efficiently because that is part of the problem. We also have good incentives for those, who want to play in the sector. What we have not had over the years is an enforcement strategy that works well and that is why when you come to a place like Lagos you see indiscriminate dredging of land and sand mining going on all over the place.

That is also why we stress the importance of partnership with the state government because we wouldn’t get much done if we don’t work with the states in order to realise the full value chain of our mineral endowments. And on our side, we need to be very consistent and predictable the way we apply the law so that there is no double standard that is perceived by any of the players. That is a very critical thing.

The second is to ensure that we organise the artisanal and low level miners very well because they are the bulk of the players in the sector. We have not gotten to a stage in Nigeria where we have some of those names that you hear in mining Anglo-Amercan, Vale, Ril Tinto and so on. We are not there yet. The best we can do is to work with junior miners and also strengthen the capacity of our small scale miners to even do better with what they are doing with the tools of the trade – that is the mining equipment, the technical capacity, access to finance. That is a quick one and that we are on. But in order to really get the tangible benefit of that, we are at first limiting our concentration on industrial minerals; cement production, tiles manufacturing, kaolin – those sorts of minerals that we have across the length and breadth of the country.

We do not really require so much money to set up processing plants. So, we are very interested in getting that on the ground and over the next six month, we will be supporting a whole range of players in the sector to ensure that they produce more to meet the demands of the market because we are not anywhere close to the demands of the market. Apart from cement which we are doing reasonably well, we are only producing less than 500,000 square meters of tiles in a country that consumes 4 million square meters.

The bulk of what we use comes from China, Italy, India – you name it. Yet, we have the stones – go round this country. It is just for us to sit down, cut it, polish it and make it available to the construction industry. The other priority for us is bitumen. We want to ensure that we get bitumen, at least for construction. Bitumen can produce oil. In fact, in countries like Canada, it is a vehicle for quite a large percentage of the petroleum that they produce but we think‎ that is not going to be a quick win. We want to limit ourselves first to bitumen for asphalt because that is an immediate need in Nigeria that we can just shut down that market and substitute it locally. So that is our immediate quick win.

Third is value addition and we are utilising a wide range of objectives in order to achieve that. One is ‎working with Customs and other security agents that our mineral should not go out without processing. Two, to support those, who are ready to set up processing plants in Nigeria and three, to help to locate the market locally for some of those products. The fourth, really, is that we want to ensure that we get Ajaokuta on steam. If nothing else, that is one project that has failed Nigerians. It has failed to materialise for about forty years.’

President Shagari did the ground breaking of Ajaokuta in 1980. Ajaokuta has still not produced one billet of steel product in nearly forty years. Yet, it has the capacity when commissioned to produce 1.5 million metric tons, which could be expanded to 3 million. Our steel consumption in Nigeria today is about 7 million metric tons and out of that we barely produce 2.8 million metric tons, mostly from scrap metals, the rest comes from import. We spend about $3.5bn importing steel products into the country.

You just imagine what we could do with that money locally at a time that we face foreign exchange crunch. We are not going to get to our desired end of industrialisation until we start producing steel and flat sheets here in Nigeria. There is no short cut to that progress. Government is determined to put everything into this project and the president is committed to it. But we also know that we have not shown good example of running successful state-owned enterprises in Nigeria.

That is why it is the considered view of government that Ajaokuta is not something to be run by government if we want to succeed with it. If we want to get it off the ground we need to give it to a group that would help realise our objectives. They will make money; nobody will do it for free but they will produce liquid steel and enable us to begin our comprehensive industrialisation journey. That is the flagship of everything that we are doing in the ministry. We must get Ajaokuta off the ground.

Is it true that you are itching to come back in next year’s election as governor?

Well, you know that rumors are a dime a dozen in politics, particularly in the age of social media. From all that I have just explained to you, it is obvious that I have a job and that the job is occupying my time. That job is at the behest of a president, who has a lot of confidence in my ability to help him deliver on his promise to the Nigerian people. I consider it a betrayal of the confidence reposed in me if barely one year into that assignment, I’m already itching to pursue governorship in Ekiti.

But don’t get me wrong, there is no question that I am passionate about Ekiti and I was in Ekiti for four years as governor. So, an abiding interest in Ekiti is in my DNA. I believe we did our best to make a difference in the lives of the people and the evidence is tangible for all to see. It is also true that as a proud Ekiti person, I feel a strong sense of disillusionment when I see what is going on in my state. It brings tears to my eyes everytime I see the irresponsibility that is masquerading as governance in the state. Although I refrain from getting involved in any direct altercation or discussion about what the governor there is doing because it is pointless to wrestle a pig in the mud and still want to be clean.

I’ve always believed that it is best to organise, rather than for one to continue to agonize about current misfortunes. What is important ultimately in my view is for our party – APC to take the rein of government in Ekiti State. There is no beating about the bush as far as that is concerned because I have no doubt in my mind  that we would make Ekiti a better place just as we did before and we won’t do so by noise making or insulting people.

So, APC must get its act together and save Ekiti from being the black sheep of the Yoruba race. Two, there is still the hardly forgotten matter of how we were taken out of office in 2014. It remains a lingering issue and we haven’t gotten to the end of that road yet. Although as an individual, I walked away from pursuing the matter, not because I was convinced I lost but because I thought it was the most honorable way to save Ekiti people from bloodbath.

I did say then in my concession speech that the story of what happened in Ekiti on June 21, 2014 would become clear to Nigerians in no distant future. Less than a year after I left office, the revelation began to unfold, right from Captain Koli’s revelation to subsequent statements by Dr. TKO Aluko, PDP Secretary in Ekiti and later revelations by former Minister, Musiliu Obanikoro and other players.

Nigerians now know better that the myth of stomach infrastructure was just a facade for a much more comprehensive annihilation of Ekiti people and for APC in Ekiti, that story has not ended. I owe it to the party and to Ekiti people to assist in getting to the root of what actually transpired in Ekiti on June 21, 2014. That is a preoccupation that I consider a much more important exercise than itching to join a so-called governorship race. It is too early to start talking about that when there is still unfinished business.

With the volume of work on your hands, how are you able to keep pace with developments in the state?

Of course, Ekiti is my home. Whenever I stop being minister, I will not stop being an Ekiti man. My work as a minister does not detract from my responsibility as a politician. In order to be a good minister, I have to be a good politician. Many people make this false disconnection by painting a picture that we just want technocrats, who are detached from politics to be in government and that politicians are usually too preoccupied with politics – whatever that means.

With the greatest respect to those, who have contempt for politicians and then draw this false dichotomy, this is absolute bunkum! How are you going to be a performing minister if you don’t have a feel of what the people want at the base? So, for me, it is not an either-or. To be a good politician does not get in the way of my being a good minister.

As a matter of fact, I believe it enhances my being a good minister because I have a better feedback from my constituency that I can put into use in delivering on the tasks given by the president and I will also be doing the president a whole lot of good in my assignment if I can hold my own place for our party and our government. There is no point being apologetic about it.

We did not get into government accidentally. Some of us worked our fingers to the bone for APC to be in government and I am not going to allow anyone lecture me about why I should not play politics as a minister or why a distinction must be made between governance and politics. As a student of politics, I know this is a false dichotomy. So, the simple answer to your question is that promoting and protecting the interest of my people is also good ministerial duty.

I have no apology to say that I have used the opportunity of being a minister from Ekiti for that purpose and I must thank the president for indulging me. I’d cite two relevant examples here. First, take the case of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge railway. In our early days as ministers, I was fortunate to be in my friend’s office, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi one day and I saw the map of the proposed Lagos-Kano standard gauge rail in his office.

Upon checking, I noticed that Ekiti was completely missing and this was the plan according to the previous government. Of course, I immediately made the case to Rotimi that this rail must pass through Ekiti and he should not shortchange my people. Of course, the minister was sympathetic and he said I should also mention it to the President.  Eventually, Minister Amaechi worked out the magic and ensured that the final line passes through Ekiti.

Now, the groundbreaking was done last week for the first phase from Lagos to Ibadan through Ogun State. It is now my duty and the duty of subsequent Ekiti occupants of the ministerial seat to ensure that no government takes Ekiti off the plan again. If I am not in government, would I have been able to make a strong case to the minister and the President the way I did? After all, there were also Ekiti people in the PDP during the Obasanjo and Jonathan era when the rail plan was originally mooted and yet the state was shortchanged.

The second example is the contract for the federal secretariat that has just been awarded for Ekiti State. I have been fighting for this since I was governor and cannot remember the number of times I went to see Mrs. Ama Pepple as Housing Minister at the time on this particular matter. All the six states created last had benefited from this apart from Ekiti and Ebonyi. So, I don’t believe it is a coincidence that we have now been well served with this award at a time that APC is in government – the Minister of Housing is my colleague and I’m the minister from Ekiti.

I don’t see anything wrong in utilizing my presence as a minister to influence things fairly and equitably to my state, a state that has been disadvantaged for such a long time by lack of access to the centre of power.

Lately, you have been deeply involved in regional politics as was seen recently in Ondo, where you played a major role in the emergence of the new governor. This is believed to have pitted you against some powerful interest in the zone to the extent that you are now referred to as a traitor from this part of the country. How do you see this tag that is being worn round your neck?

First, I really don’t understand what you mean by regional politics. I think it is unfortunate to tag me as a traitor to the cause, if that cause is progressive politics.  All my life, I have been a social democrat and I have not even strayed in my politics outside of this ideological orientation. You cannot find in my history anything outside of the fold. I was born into it and my father was very active in the Action Group, Unity Party of Nigeria and the Social Democratic Party.

I am a creature of Nigeria’s version of progressive politics, and I don’t see anything that will take me away from this. Much more importantly, my politics flows from my activism. It’s what I have done even before I got involved in partisan politics. What drives my politics is my own belief that government has a responsibility, indeed a duty to lift up the weak and the vulnerable in the society.

Call it left wing politics, call it progressive politics, you can give it any terminology you want to but it is what drives me and there is nothing that I did in Ondo State to which you referred that set me apart from that trajectory. So, I can’t even understand this whole notion of betrayal in Ondo. My party had a candidate in the governorship election of Ondo State. I did not really get involved in the election of Ondo State until after a candidate emerged from the primaries and that was when the party set up an election committee and I was asked to serve in the committee.

Please tell me, how is that a betrayal? That a primary was conducted, a candidate emerged, the party set up a campaign committee for the election, I was nominated by the party to serve on it and I worked for the candidate. I did not go to work for the candidate of the opposition. I did not work for the candidate of PDP.  Neither did I work for the candidate of the Alliance for Democracy; I worked in Ondo State for the candidate of APC. So, I don’t get the logic of your argument.

When I read all those stories about how some of us are the new Akintolas of the South-west, I ask myself: who are the Awolowos? That is what I ask myself. What have I done to depart from the politics and teachings of social democracy? Yes, nerves are naturally bound to be frayed by notions of victory or losses, but I don’t want us to see it that way. We produced the governor in Ondo State. It has added one additional governor to the APC side of the divide. It also leaves just Ekiti in the PDP fold in the South-west. We now have 24 governors in the APC and I don’t see how that is not going to strengthen the capacity of our party. People are leaving other parties to join us in spite of the obvious concerns about the economy.

I really don’t have any apology for working for our party in Ondo State. I have served the president and our party to the best of my ability. Obviously, one is not perfect and there many things that I haven’t done well but I take every assignment given to me by the party seriously and I try to deliver results, whether it is the presidential primaries, directing policy for the party or working on Ondo State election.

What I think we should be doing now is holding the feet of our new governor to fire to deliver on what he has promised to the people so that we will not be seen as having betrayed the people. That is the betrayal if Akeredolu does not deliver to Ondo people; that is what will amount to betrayal in my view.

Not those of us who went to work for him from the length and breadth of this country – so many of us led by Governor Lalong. We worked for our party. So, I don’t accept such a tag and I reject it. I think those who are saying it are laboring under a severe bout of ignorance or mischief or both and I don’t expect any serious person to pay attention to that.

So, how come a former governor of Lagos State and some party leaders are believed to be so miffed at you? This former Lagos governor is particularly said not to be happy with the role you played?

With the role I played? I don’t believe that the former governor of Lagos State you are talking is our leader, Asiwaju, not Raji Fashola? Miffed at me? That is news to me! That is real news to me. Asiwaju and I have a long standing relationship. It did not start at the door step of partisan politics. I met Asiwaju in exile.

He had joined his colleagues on the NADECO train to the UK and was shuttling between UK and America at the time, working with leaders like Chief Anthony Enahoro, General Alani Akinrinade, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, our now party Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Hon Wale Oshun and others.

They all came to the UK in the heat of the struggle against General Sani Abacha. I happened to have been one of the exiled actors at the time in the democracy movement and I worked very closely with them. And when Asiwaju became a governor, having returned to Nigeria of course, I was elated. I authored my own piece of advice because he asked me to work with his transition team at that time and I did that. I did that with Governor Adebayo, my own governor in Ekiti as well.

And when I was asked to run in Ekiti, Asiwaju was among the early set of leaders that I discussed with and he supported me wholeheartedly. He worked closely with some of our leaders in Ekiti, particularly governor Adebayo to realize my governorship project. I am forever indebted to Asiwaju. Asiwaju that I know has a capacity to attract talents. And he also has the capacity to engage in robust debates and we both engage in robust debates and we sometimes disagree, but that does not take away the fact that he is my mentor, he is my leader and he has been of great impact on my own political journey.

There is no question about that. But does that mean that I am a sheepish follower of Asiwaju? Absolutely not! Asiwaju would not even want anybody to be his sheepish follower. The Asiwaju that I know and that I have worked very closely with is not the type. He would give counsel. If you solicit it, he would advise you but he would not, to the best of my knowledge, impose his views. Asiwaju never once told me to work for anybody in Ondo State or not to work for anybody. Asiwaju never touted any aspirant with me in Ondo politics.

Not once did he say, “Kayode, this is the person that I want us to work for in Ondo.” Not once! So, why do people build up these myths that actually are not true? So, if Asiwaju never asked me, Asiwaju cannot be miffed with me if I worked for the candidate that the party has put forward in Ondo State. I don’t get it. It is illogical for people to reach this sort of conclusion that you are talking about. So, I am not aware that Asiwaju is miffed at me. I still saw Asiwaju a couple of days ago when we were at the late General Adebayo’s house and if you saw us together you will not be spreading this puerile mischief.

The president recently returned to the country after 51 days of medical vacation and his health has been a concern in the political circles and people are conjecturing now. As an in-house person and a member of the team, do you think the president has the capacity to run or should run for a second term in office, given the state of his health?

Even the president will not answer that question, to the best of my knowledge, because anyone who knows President Buhari will know that he is not given to voluble display in order to impress people. The president has a job to do. He has a mandate that ends, to the best of my knowledge on May 29, 2019. A lot of things on our agenda have not even been delivered yet and you are talking about something that is almost two and half years away. All I can say is that we would cross that bridge when we get there but for now, the president is delivering on the mandate that Nigerians have given to him.

The state of your party is another cause for concern. Don’t you see an implosion soon?

An Implosion in APC? I said to you earlier that people are moving in droves from that other party in disarray to our party and you’re talking about implosion.

Are you also not worried that a majority of Nigerians are not happy about the state of affairs?

Oh, obviously, we are very worried and I am particularly worried. Don’t forget, I was the policy Chief of my party in the process leading up to the election and there were things that we promised Nigerians that we are yet to fulfill. There were things that President Buhari, as a person with integrity would have loved to achieve at a much faster pace than the economy has allowed us to do. So, Yes, Nigerians are understandably disaffected in certain areas – about the economic recession and its concomitant effect. However, I also feel Nigerians can see the difference between this government and the government that left office.

No matter what anyone wants to say, the crisis in the North-east has largely subsided. I am not saying it’s totally disappeared, but it’s largely subsided and there is a rebuilding process that is ongoing there now. That credit must go to the right place and that is at the door step of President Buhari, who has put in a lot of effort to ensure that it is achieved. And he has a three-pronged agenda if you remember. Security: if you look at the Niger Delta issue, you can see that militancy that we suffered from has largely subsided, from the time when pipelines were being blown up leading to as low as 900,000 barrel oil production per day.

But now we are back to 2 million barrels and if you look at our recovery and growth plan, you will see the projection there: 2.5 million barrels by 2020 and I believe we will even exceed that production target. You can see what is happening in the foreign exchange market now, but if you ask me, we are still not doing enough. We need to take the bull by the horn. I honestly do not believe that we should be giving preferential treatment to those who want to buy personal travel allowances or payment of school fees.

I have a child in school in the United States but I have never taken special foreign exchange to pay the school fees of my child abroad. If you want to send your child to school abroad, it is your business; it should not be the business of the Nigerian government. Nigerian government should concentrate on improving the quality, guaranteeing access and ensuring affordability of schools in Nigeria, not pandering to the whims of those seeking foreign education for their children. It is unacceptable to me! And I also happen to know that people can concoct all sorts of invoices from schools abroad and run a racket on the side in the name of gaming the system.

But when we view what is happening holistically, you will also have to commend the government. We are not where we want to be yet but we are not where we have left and that is what happens in transition. In transitions, the old is dying but the new is not yet born and what you get in the middle is a whole range of challenges. So, I just want to appeal to Nigerians that yes, there are reasons to be unhappy with us since our party was elected to solve problems but we cannot run away from the lessons of history.

We will not become slaves to that lesson but we must acknowledge that this rain has been beating us for a long time before we got into government and it will be a disservice to history not to acknowledge where Nigeria has come from. We don’t want to blame but the truth of the matter is that this was a country that earned consistently for about four years  in excess of $110 per barrel of oil and we sold in excess of about 2 million barrels a day. But we are the ones in the saddle and we must do everything within our power to really put smiles on the faces of Nigerians and President Buhari is determined to do that.

What are your projections for the polity as Nigerians count down to 2019?

You know democratisation is a process, not a linear journey. I am not going to sit here and tell you that the trajectory will just be on the upswing because the reality is that there are a whole range of factors that we do not necessarily control. That the ones we can control relate to planning and that is something we have demonstrated with the recently launched economic recovery and growth plan. That takes us to where we want to be in terms of self-sufficiency, in terms of macro-economic stability, in term of jobs creation and in term of all the things Nigerians are yearning for.

The question is: are we going to be able to deliver that in two years. We will certainly come close. Unfortunately, the reform cycle and the electoral cycle are not often aligned. Reform cycle is not a four year cycle but electoral cycle is for four years in Nigeria while the reform cycle is a continuum. You need continuity in order for that change to our change to endure. Yet, we want quick fixes even when the fundamentals have been badly damaged.

The truth is, if President Buhari were to address the fundamentals in the real detached manner that it should be addressed, he would do many things that will be regarded by the populace as even if necessary, anti-people. We would take some very hard stand against some things but we have a situation, where hard-nosed surgical reforms have been taken over by populist agitation..

Source: Nigeria Muse


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